Last Friday saw the introduction of banning orders in an attempt to clamp down on the offences of rogue landlords and letting agents. With these changes in place, those who offend will hopefully find it harder to hide their crimes.
As part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, those who commit specific offences may be issued a ban by their local housing authority. The more severe the offense, the longer the ban might be in place.
Those who receive a banning order will then be logged on a database. This list will be used by councils to keep track of these rogues, and will be shared between them. However, this database will not be made public.
David Cox, Chief Executive of ARLA Property mark, has said that this outcome is “disappointing”.
He commented: “This appears to be a pointless exercise; if the list were made public – like the equivalent for estate agents – rogue agents and landlords would leave the market for good.”
As the matter stands, renters will not be able to see this information, but this might be a step towards further developments.
Many landlords ask for a reference from prospective tenants before agreeing a tenancy. They understandably want to check that they are honest and trustworthy, and by confirming previous landlords and tenancy agreements, this is easily done. Should it not be considered that tenants are entitled to similar information about their landlords and letting agents? Being able to see that they have a clean record could help put minds at rest, as well as providing a positive start to the rental relationship.
Despite this issue of trust between landlord, letting agent and tenant, it should be considered that the industry does have its success stories. There are always horror stories circulating, from ‘nightmare tenants’ damaging properties and refusing to pay rent, to rogue landlords ignoring maintenance requests in the middle of a bitter winter. These are often seen as ‘newsworthy’ stories, as they make for a more interesting read. However, it is worth bearing in mind the benefits of broadcasting positive experiences. It would be helpful to those looking to rent to hear first-hand who in their area is reliable.
Just Landlords, the specialist landlord insurers, are currently holding their ‘Landlord Hero’ competition. This competition encourages tenants to blog about their positive rental experiences, to be in with the chance of winning a prize for themselves and their mentioned landlord or letting agent.
Overall, having banning orders and the database available for the public to see, and encouraging more positive media coverage such as this competition, may help us move towards achieving a more honest and trustworthy property rental industry.
This could only be good news for landlords and letting agents, as it’s free publicity. As long as they are following the relevant rules and regulations, then they have nothing to fear, and everything to gain.
Written by Emily Morley